Karen Ensle Ed.D., RDN, FAND, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
Healthy eating is not hard to do. Here are some ways to get your meals in order and your diet in better shape. Following these suggestions will leave you looking and feeling healthier with more energy each day. Try these tips:
- Eat a healthy breakfast that includes at least 3 food groups: whole grain cereal or bread, a protein source such as an egg, 8 ounces of non-fat or 1% yogurt, cheese or milk, and some fruit—rather than juice.
- Switch to 1% or non-fat milk or other dairy products or substitutes and make sure you get at least 3 servings a day to keep calcium and vitamin D levels sufficient.
- Drink water with your meals instead of soda, sweet iced teas, or juice.
- Eat smaller portions of foods. All foods have calories and, the more you eat, the more likely you will be heavier than you should be.
- Pack a healthy snack and lunch to take to work or school each day. Avoid vending machines and fast foods for lunchtime meals.
- Skip the chips and try an apple, whole wheat crackers, unsalted nuts, or a protein bar instead. Some veggie sticks and yogurt dip are also refreshing! Keep the fat, salt and sugar to a minimum.
- When eating dinner out, have a salad, instead of fries, and ask for dressing on the side.
- Use less salt by flavoring food with herbs and pepper.
- Use less butter and saturated fats like coconut oil or stick margarine. Instead, use olive oil or other non-saturated oils for cooking. Try grilling, broiling, roasting, stewing, or steaming instead of frying foods.
- Eat a rainbow of colors including lots of different fruit and vegetables. Eat produce from every color group: red, green, blue, purple, orange, yellow and white groups. All are healthy choices!
- Plan your meals for a week and make a grocery list before you shop. Never shop when you are hungry!
- Shop for lean meats, chicken, turkey or fish. Plan a meatless dinner at least once a week. Try beans and rice, tofu instead of meat, and Italian dishes such as vegetarian/cheese lasagna and pasta with marinara sauce.
- Never food shop when you are hungry. Always shop after a meal.
- Make sure to read food labels which will help you choose foods low in fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Use low-fat or fat-free mayo and salad dressings in small amounts on sandwiches, salads, and other dishes.
- Eat desserts and sweets in small amounts. Choose fruit for dessert over cookies, cakes, and other delights.
- Turn off the television, computer, and cell phone during meal times. Communicate with your family and friends for a "healthier environment" and better social setting.
- When eating out, share the meal or take half home for the next day. Try ordering "small plates" or appetizer size dishes. Order from the menu rather than having a meal buffet style. Eat slowly and stop eating when you feel full. Forget the seconds!
- Practice mindful eating and take small steps to keep your food intake and dietary habits healthy.